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Monday 25 September 2017

The O-Zone: When advert's backfire

- MONDAY OZone doesn't normally eat crisps, but . . . PHWOAR!!!! This afternoon I walk into a Galway corner shop and request, "a pack of those new breast & front-bottom flavoured ones, please".

The girl behind the counter seems puzzled. "What flavour?" she asks. "You know the ones that are causing all the controversy -- Dunky Whorey or something like that." "I don't know if it was controversial, but this guy wrote a book," she replies, doubtfully handing me a pack of Tayto.

I'm sure the creative minds behind this controversial advertising campaign are delighted with all the attention, but it's often funnier when a company accidentally causes offence.

Many years ago, American computer manufacturer Wang launched an international advertising campaign. Their feel good new slogan? "Wang Cares!" They couldn't understand why their British offices objected.

- Tuesday OZone isn't a football fan, but I still got a great kick out of Declan Lynch's hilarious new book, Days of Heaven. Although ostensibly an account of Italia '90 and the Charlton years, it's also a social memoir of the Ireland of 20 years ago.

Chatting to Declan on the phone this afternoon, we get talking about the sheer grimness of the late 1980s. He tells me that, when he started out in journalism as a television critic, he used to rent his set: "I rented the TV -- and I rented the flat that the TV was in. There was such a sense of impermanence in the 80s. Everybody was just trying to get through the week, so even the most basic things were rented. At a very deep level, buying a TV genuinely seemed like putting down roots."

- Wednesday OZone can't understand why politicians are getting uptight about head shops. After all, if so many Irish citizens weren't distracting themselves from the worries and anxieties of their miserable debt-ridden lives with legal highs, then they might arise from their intoxicated slumber and start pointing more than just fingers at those perceived to be responsible for our nation's ills.

Frankly, if I was in Brian Cowen's shoes, I'd be offering government grants to head shops (probably while wondering where my own shoes were).

That's one of the many points about head shops that I didn't get around to making during my appearance this evening on TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne.

Sinn Fein's Aonghus O'Snodaigh is also on the panel. Shortly before we go live, Browne turns to him and mischievously asks, "were you ever in the IRA?" O'Snodaigh looks a little shocked, but comes back with, "Well, I'd hardly tell you if I was".

Whoa! Way to put your guests at unease, Vincent. . .

- Thursday My mother calls to review my TV3 appearance. Actually that's not quite true. I call her and after a brief stand-off, eventually cave in and ask did she watch it. "Olaf, I barely recognised you.You've put on a lot of weight. Time to cut down on your drinking! Your teeth need whitening too. It looked like you had black stumps in your mouth. You definitely need to stop smoking!"

"Fine, I looked awful," I sigh. "But what about what I said?" "Oh, I had the volume turned down."

- Friday Initially, I thought the text was a joke: "Gerry Ryan found dead." Sadly, and shockingly suddenly, the Ryan-line is permanently closed.

OZone didn't know Ryan especially well -- if, indeed, at all. Aside from occasional nods across crowded rooms, we haven't directly communicated since I interviewed him for Hot Press back in the 90s. I last saw him backstage at the third U2 360 show in Croke Park last year.

It's only when something unexpected like this happens that you re-evaluate your opinion of somebody. When OZone was a teenager, I used to listen to his nightly radio show (along with Dave Fanning's and Mark Cagney's). Occasionally, I'd record songs off it. I must've spent hundreds of hours of my life listening to Ryan.

His brilliance as a broadcaster is reflected in the fact that his untimely death was reported everywhere from the Guardian to the Huffington Post. Say what you like about the man, he definitely made his mark on Irish society. My deepest sympathies to his estranged wife, Morah, his five lovely children, and also his current partner, Melanie. While their pain must be nigh unbearable, he'll be sorely missed by hundreds of thousands of people who never knew him personally. Gerry Ryan, RIP.

In the evening, to the pub for a couple of clear refreshing glasses of sparkling mineral water. I bump into gorgeous singer-songwriter Ruth Dillon and her boyfriend, artist Dara McGee. Ruth's just returned from a successful three-week solo tour of Germany. I tell her that, statistically, the Germans buy more CDs than any other nation on earth. "I know," she beams. "I sold loads over there. Brilliant audiences, too!"

Alongside her solo career, Ruth has a new bluegrass band called The Molly Hicks on the go. They recently released their debut album, and will be playing a big show in Galway's Town Hall on June 30. Check them out on Myspace -- myspace.com/themollyhicks.

- Saturday Having launched his exhibition, Kettle Heart, there during the Cuirt Festival, I drop into Sheridan's on the Docks for a chat with artist Owen Durcan. He sold four pictures on the night, and a few more since. "Great!" I say. "Mine's a treble vodka with a €50 straw!" Durcan has a varied mix of styles, but one of my favourites is his portrait of the late Dubliner Ronnie Drew. "It's called Ronnie Drawn," he explains.

- Sunday The organisers of Galway's first craft beer festival have invited me out to the Brewers on the Bay festival in The Oslo in Salthill. The venue is home to the microbrewery which makes Bay Brewer beer.

Free beer? I couldn't possibly -- especially given that I'm meant to be interviewing the crazed Courtney Love in Glasgow tomorrow evening. Full report on that encounter next week.

Meanwhile, OZone and out.

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